At our January meeting the group decided we want to concentrate on Food issues, in particular on campaigning against the premature introduction of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO's). We considered what we want to achieve, who are our targets, who are our allies, what we should do to achieve our targets and how we will know when we've won. Since that meeting the pace of activity in this area has been so fast that much of what we considered then has been achieved and no doubt by the time you read this more will have happened. So I am sorry if some of what I report below is clearly out of date, but this does mean that all of us working on this issue have been making progress. Although sometimes with out doing very much!
What we want to achieve.
Overall (these are national Friends of the Earth objectives)
- Achieve by 2000 a five year freeze on the commercial growing and import of GM crops in the UK and the introduction of strict legal liability for environmental or health impacts arising from GM crop and food proliferation by 2005.
- Persuade four leading UK supermarket chains to remove GM materials from all their own brand products by the end of 2000
- Achieve by 2003 a government support package for organic production in the UK that is equivalent to the best in the EU and is funded by a proportion of the revenues from an agrochemicals tax.
- Achieve a measurable increase in both public awareness of and the proportion of food produced and supplied through local food links (box schemes and farmers' markets etc) in the UK over the next five years in order to break the dependency on the agribusiness food chain.
- Persuade the local large food suppliers, e.g. schools and hospitals, to remove GM materials from the food they supply.
- Persuade local decision makers, i.e. councillors, MP's and MEP's to commit publicly to a five year moratorium on GM foods.
- Promote local sources of organic food and establish local food links.
We have started writing to MP's and as usual have received more positive replies from the backbenchers while the ministers have followed the Government line. It seems that councillors have already voted to remove GM products from school meals.
There are a lot of other organisations working on this issue such as SAGE, Sheffield Against Genetic Engineering, and there have been various
meetings organised by SAGE.
Ideas we haven't taken forward as yet include a local 'where you can buy GM-free food' directory, targeting specific supermarkets for protests, asking restaurants, pubs and so on not to use GM foods and setting up a GM page on are web site.
If you want to get involved come along to one of our meetings. If you want to know more try Friends of the Earth on 0171 490 1555, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or the web site: www.foe.co.uk